37-year-old Jason Kendall is back with the Royals this spring, but this time it’s as a special assignment coach helping to work with the team’s catchers. After his latest shoulder surgery in November, his future as a player looks bleak, the Kansas City Star reports.
“Can I play again?” Kendall asked. “I don’t know. I’m going to give it a shot. Is it going to be this year? No, probably not. But who knows? I’m in uncharted waters…This job might be something that I enjoy.”
Kendall hasn’t played since 2010, but he collected a nice $3.75 million salary from the Royals last year anyway. He estimated his chances of making it back to the majors at “five percent.”
If Kendall is done, he’ll finish his career with a .288/.366/.378 line, 75 homers and 744 RBI in 2,085 games. It’s easy to forget now, but he was an outstanding player his first five years in the league before injuries robbed him of both his speed and power (he hit .314/.402/.456 in 2,294 at-bats through age 26). Even so, he managed to hang on for 15 years and he currently ranks fifth all-time in games caught at 2,025.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.